This intensive course offers students the opportunity to develop an understanding of avenues for success in the online art world. It will offer an introduction to key players and systems that operate in the current online ecosystem for contemporary art. Each day addresses a certain vital component of the online contemporary art world, and the type of businesses that operate within it.
Each class will also feature leading figures who will conference in via zoom to discuss their own areas of expertise within the online art world and the businesses that they operate which will serve as case studies.
Students will leave the intensive programme with a thorough understanding of how various online businesses function independently, and in conjunction with others. The course will conclude with a description of the most recent developments in the online contemporary art marketplace, providing insights for potential career paths in the field.
This course has been updated since its last version. It now has an added focus on the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic has, and will continue, to alter the landscape of the artworld.
What you will learn:
- how to sell art successfully online
- how to start an art tech business
- why the move to online will become the new normal for the art world
Day 1: Overview
We will begin by discussing the first online art sales platforms and the motivations behind their founding and the timeline in which they came into existence. Offering the base for the weeks ahead, this class will provide a descriptive orientation of the various businesses that operate in the online art world. It will discuss, among other operators:
- Online auction houses as well as brick and mortar auction houses that have an online affiliate, such as: Christie’s Online, Sotheby’s, Thesaleroom, Paddle8, and the now defunct Auctionata
- Online storefronts for contemporary art: Eyestorm, Ocula, Unit London, Artspace and Artsper
- Online art rental services: RiseArt, A Space for Art
- Online edition houses: [s]edition, Daata Editions, Counter Editions
- Online databases for aggregating auction results and art pricing recommendations: Artprice, Artnet, Invaluable, ArtRank
- Exhibition mapping applications: Seesaw, Exhibitionary, gowithYamo
- Online art publication outlets: Artnet News, ArtReview, Artnews, Arteviste, Artversed, Artbites
- Online art blogs for installation shots: Contemporary Art Daily, Artviewer.org
- Contemporary art newsletters: Baerfaxt, Artcube
- Social Media platforms as applicable to contemporary art: Artstack, Collecteurs, Instagram, Pinterest
This class will also, for the first time, include a discussion on:
- Online viewing rooms
- Virtual viewing rooms
- Viewing rooms for fairs and their significance
- A brief discussion of Net Art, and art made by artists specifically for the purpose of being online
Students will leave this class with an understanding of the fundamentals of the online art world. The course will expose various online businesses and a clearer idea of how these businesses contribute to the online market for contemporary art before delving into specifics for various verticals within the sector.
Day 2: Online Infrastructures for Galleries, Auction Houses and Art Fairs
This class will cover how traditional brick-and-mortar contemporary art businesses implement online technology in order to expand their artists’ market and build their sales network. Examples will include web-development platforms such as exhibit-E that focus on commercial gallery websites; subscription-based listing models such as artsy, and e-commerce solutions that have been developed for auction houses. These include standalone online sales, and relevant partnerships between auction houses and online platforms.
This updated version of the class will discuss how galleries will have to use online platforms in order to survive the pandemic and its aftereffects and the implications of this.
Since Christie’s as an auction house was already covered in the previous class, a more heavy emphasis will be placed on galleries and art fairs and their online infrastructures.
Topics discussed during this lecture will include:
- Selling works online through pdfs and through online marketplaces
- Developing editions in tandem with other online businesses
- Newsletter strategies
For Auction Houses
- Partnering with online businesses
- Developing standalone e-commerce solutions
- How online auctions are handled
- Online promotion and digital marketing support
- Preview collaborations with platforms such as artsy
- Online only art fairs and their viability such as Dream Art Fair and the now defunct VIP Art Fair and the current/recent fairs (Basel, Dallas) that are using online technologies in place of physical shows
Day 3: Start-Up Fundamentals
This class is designed to teach students the key tools that are required for creating an online contemporary art startup from scratch. It will highlight various early stage startups as examples. The two start ups I have helped build will be used as specific case-studies. Real life examples and affiliated companies will be described and cited. Piero will once again feature, I am happy to also bring in another speaker who has their own online art startup
Fundamentals that are covered:
- Incorporation in the UK versus other outposts that are beneficial for tax purposes
- Choosing an accountant
- Choosing a legal staff
- Choosing offices
- Raising investment
- Tech related costs
- Server maintenance
- General maintenance
- Digital marketing
- Events related to branding, marketing and product launches
- Google analytics from an e-commerce perspective
- Weaknesses that have lead to the failure of certain startups
Some examples of early stage startups to be discussed include: Artvisor, Magnus, Artelite, Presenza and Arteviste
Day 4: Future Movements
The course culminates in a class that discusses the future directions of the online contemporary art world.
- VR, viable for artworks, but for online sales?
- Augmented reality (AR) and how it or can’t be used for the physical sale of art
- Consolidation in the online art marketplace - which businesses will survive and why?
- Adaptation: if, and when, buying art online will become as common as buying clothing or other goods
- Interaction, web art platforms such as newscenario.org, and their impact on IRL art sales and installations
Students will be provided with a recap of the covered material, leaving the course with a deeper understanding of the online contemporary art world, and an insight into potential career paths.
Nico Epstein is a curator, art historian and art advisor with a career-long involvement in art tech. He is a partner and COO of Artvisor, a London based contemporary art consultancy; having worked in the online art space for the past 10 years. Epstein has helped to arrange more than 20 exhibitions of contemporary art throughout Europe, New York and Hong Kong, focussing mostly on artists of his generation. He is currently overseeing the expansion of Artvisor’s technology and the formation of the art collection for the new W Hotel opening in Rome this autumn. Epstein also acts as a consultant for Frieze, organizing bespoke tours for their VIP clients. He has lectured on contemporary art and its markets at Bocconi, The Courtauld, and University College London among other leading universities. His most recent book, an analysis of Susan Sontag’s On Photography, was published on Routledge in 2018. His last course at Christie's Education was New Dynamics: The Digital Contemporary Art World.
For any queries about this course please contact
London Courses Department
+44 (0)207 665 4350